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Georgia's captain demands fair deal from referees for tier two nations

By Paul Smith
France's number 8 Gregory Alldritt is tackled during the Test match between France and Georgia at The Matmut Atlantique Stadium in Bordeaux (Photo by Romain PERROCHEAU / AFP) (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Georgia captain Mehrab Sharikhadze won plenty of support after voicing the opinion that tier two nations receive less-than-fair treatment from match officials when facing tier one opposition.


The 28-year-old centre, who plays his club rugby in the French second division with Aurillac, first made his feelings clear late in the first half of the Lelos’ Autumn International Series defeat at the hands of France.

With the hosts leading 24-3 and Georgia having already lost two players to the sin bin, Sharikhadze aired his frustration during a very direct conversation with referee Damon Murphy.

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Siya Kolisi on transformation
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Siya Kolisi on transformation

“I understand we are a small team, I understand they have an advantage, but you aren’t giving us any penalties,” he protested.

However, he got short shrift from the Australian whistler who responded quite simply: “Abide by the laws and you get penalties.”

Georgia managed to keep all 15 players on the pitch in Bordeaux after half-time and despite conceding a further three tries they had the satisfaction of claiming a fine effort of their own through scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze.


Speaking after France went on to complete their warm-up for next weekend’s mouth-watering clash with the All Blacks by claiming a 41-15 win, Sharikhadze returned to the subject and again did not mince his words.

“In this kind of contest the referee can really make all the difference, obviously. Everyone knows the level of France, they are stronger than us, but I think he was hard on us,” he said.

“Watch the match again, I’m sure you’ll find a lot of things that he didn’t whistle on the French side. You will see – analyse the images – you will see things that are wrong, and that is very disappointing for us.”

After conceding eight of the first nine penalties plus yellow cards for fly half Tedo Abzhandadze and back-rower Beka Saghinadze, the Lelos ended the game with an overall penalty count against them of 18 while les Bleus conceded only seven.


And Sharikhadze completed his critique of the officiating by suggesting multiple errors were made.

“We had a chance to face France, which doesn’t happen that often,” he said.

“We gave our best on the pitch and it was frustrating to see someone making the wrong decisions every time.

“I have to say it; of course everyone makes mistakes, but I hope next time will be better.”

Many watching fans took to Twitter to voice their agreement, including some who saw similar trends in the refereeing of Wales v Fiji.


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